Round-up of Session

18 June 2001


Discusses Ways and Means of Maintaining
Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes

VIENNA, 15 June (UN Information Service) – Ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), and enlargement of the membership of the Committee were among the topics discussed at the forty-fourth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) which finished its work here today.

UNISPACE III Recommendations

UNISPACE III was held in Vienna from 19 to 30 July 1999, and it has identified specific areas and actions through which space science and technology can help solve common problems on both the regional and global level.

Among UNISPACE III recommendations were the following: remote sensing for protecting the environment, facilitating and utilizing communications, improving and using positioning and location capabilities, furthering knowledge and building capacity, enhancing education and training opportunities for youth, information technology needs and the global approach, spin-offs and commercial benefits from space activities: promoting technology development and exchange, and promoting international cooperation.

The Committee discussed a mechanism to put these recommendations into reality through the voluntary leadership of individual Member States, with the help of NGOs. A survey had been conducted among Member States to identify the level of interest and priority for each action constituting the nucleus of a strategy, contained in the resolution of UNISPACE III to address global challenges in the future. The committee considered the results of the survey and agreed that the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III could proceed in stages. In the first stage, the Committee would seek to implement recommendations that fell into the following two groups:

  1. Group 1. Those recommendations which were considered by Member States as of highest priority as indicated by the results of the survey;
  2. Group 2. Those recommendations for which there were States that had offered to be coordinators of action teams to implement recommendations.

The Committee recognized that there were two types of action recommended in the Vienna declaration: (a) actions that Member States had a direct interest in pursuing through their national activities; and (b) actions that were related to strengthening the work of the Committee and of the United Nations, as well as coordination with other organizations of the United Nations system that could be undertaken under the leadership of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

For each recommendation to be addressed by the Committee through action teams there would be an assessment phase and an implementation phase. During the assessment phase, the following actions should be undertaken by an open-ended action team consisting of interested countries: (a) examination of the current status; (b) definition of actions to be undertaken during the implementation phase; and (c) preparation of a possible work plan.

The Committee identified the following as the recommendations that had been assigned highest priority by Member States: develop a comprehensive, worldwide environmental monitoring strategy; improve the management of Earth’s natural resources; implement an integrated, global system to manage natural disaster mitigation, relief and prevention efforts; improve universal access to and compatibility of space-based navigation and positioning systems; promote sustainable development by applying the results of space research; increase awareness among decision makers and the general public of the importance of space activities.

Space Debris

The Committee agreed with the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee that consideration of space debris – retired or defunct satellites and fragments and small particles of various origin – was important, that international cooperation was needed to expand appropriate and affordable strategies to minimize the potential impact of space debris on future space missions and that Member States should pay more attention to the problem of collisions of space objects, including those with nuclear power sources on board, with space debris and to other aspects of space debris.

The Committee noted that the recommended practice of reorbiting satellites before the end of their operational life had not been universally applied and suggested that updated information on the state of application of that practice could be provided by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) at the thirty-ninth session of the Subcommittee, in 2002.

Draft Convention of Unidroit on international interests in mobile equipment

The Draft Convention of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit) on international interests in mobile equipment and the preliminary draft protocol thereto on matters specific to space property were considered during its fortieth session in 2-12 April 2001, by the Legal Subcommittee, the other subsidiary body of COPUOS.

The Committee agreed that the draft Unidroit convention and protocol on space property represented an important initiative, in particular in the light of the continuing increase of private-sector space activities, and deserved the full attention of Member States.

The Committee endorsed the agreement of the Legal Subcommittee concerning the establishment of an ad hoc consultative mechanism to review the issues relating to this item. Pursuant to that agreement, a series of informal consultations were conducted during the session, on the basis of which the Committee agreed that the next step in the consultative process on the topic would be a working meeting under the aegis of the Legal Subcommittee to be hosted by the Government of France in Paris on 10 and 11 September 2001.

Space and Society

The Committee agreed that a new item entitled "Space and Society" should be included on the agenda of the Committee at its forty-fifth and forty-sixth session. The view was expressed that the new item would, among other things, enable Member States to share information on their efforts to demonstrate to the general public how space activities such as remote sensing and telecommunications could enrich their daily lives.

Symposium: The Human Dimension in Space Science and Technology Applications

In order to consider the cultural, ethical and human aspects of space science and technology applications, a symposium on "The human dimension in space science and technology applications" was held on 11 June 2001.

Presentations to the Symposium were made including a panel discussion and concluding remarks by the Chairman.

Since humankind first began exploring outer space, space science and technology and their applications have had enormous benefits for education, health, environmental monitoring, management of natural resources, disaster management, meteorological forecasting, satellite navigation and communications. However, the practical benefits of space science and technology applications have not yet reached all people equally. While many applications are positively used on the daily basis by the developed world, a large part of the developing world is not aware of the benefits of space applications and only has limited access to these applications. The need for increasing awareness of space benefits as well as the need to facilitate access to space science and technology, and to entities with space capabilities as well as the necessity to act responsibly were addressed during the symposium.

Enlargement of the Membership of the Committee

The Committee agreed that the practice of sharing seats on a rotating basis between Cuba and Peru as well as the Republic of Korea and Malaysia should be terminated and that those four countries should become full members. The Committee also agreed that Saudi Arabia and Slovakia should become members of the Committee.


The Committee consists of the following members:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba*, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia*, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru*, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea*, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam.

(*Peru and Malaysia rotate their memberships every two years with Cuba and the Republic of Korea)

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